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“Peanuts” dump fine shows waste laws are rubbish

“Peanuts” dump fine shows waste laws are rubbish

Green MP Mike Ward says the “peanuts” fine imposed on a Waikato landfill operator should be a wake up-call that more robust waste management laws are needed to tackle a mounting pollution crisis.

“Dump millionaire” John Campbell has described the record $100,000 RMA fine imposed on him for excess dumping at his Pukemiro property as “peanuts” and good publicity for his business.

“While in the case of John Campbell’s illegal and inappropriate dumping it appears that the Waikato District Council’s rules were sufficient to get a conviction, that is more than can be said for the local rules governing numerous private and public landfills, past and present, that continue to leach into waterways around New Zealand,” said Mr Ward, the Green Party’s Waste-free Spokesperson.

“While landfill operations have improved dramatically in recent years, the absence of robust law on waste management means poor quality dumps will continue to appear throughout New Zealand.

“Responsible councils have voluntarily stopped the dumping of green waste and demolition materials, but unless the Government is prepared to ban the burial of these and other potentially valuable resources, they are likely to continue to be a substantial portion of the 10 million kilograms going into New Zealand landfills every day.

“There’s nothing wrong with holding waste for eventual recycling as long its management meets appropriate performance standards, but councils may find themselves obliged to undermine their own and neighbouring authority’s recycling efforts because the law makes it cheaper for materials to be buried.

“If Mr Campbell is recycling all of the materials that he is accepting and making it pay, I suspect that the Council may well be obliged to eventually issue his resource consent. Given his claim that the Council’s slow process forced him to let the rubbish pile up, the Council would be wise to speedily complete that process but with conditions guaranteeing that his operation is indeed as clean as he claims.”

Mr Ward has prepared a Private Member’s Bill providing for landfill bans and levies as well as other measures to make producers take responsibility for their product when they reach the end of their useful life.

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